Co-founder of anarcho-popsters Chumbawamba, Boff Whalley continues his highly successful writing relationship with radical theatre company Red Ladder with a hard-hitting play for the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike. But despite its subject, there is not a miner or policeman in sight. Instead the story is told through the lives of three sisters who all have links to the industrial conflict.
Stacey Sampson as Mary plays the wife of a miner who has taken on a job as a fishmonger to make ends meet. She is a bubbly and vivacious character and strong-willed too. The youngest, 18-year-old Isobel, Claire-Marie Seddon is a college drop-out, massive fan of The Smiths. She is going out with a trainee constable and, of course, the strike puts their relationship under strain. The maternal Olive Victoria Brazier at first appears rather holier-than-thou but ends up ‘liberating’ the church’s plate collection for ‘the cause’.
This intrepid trio reside in Carston, a fictitious South Yorkshire pit village, where they set up an activist group, Women Against Pit Closures. This isn’t just feminist posturing, this is real flesh and blood resistance and their political campaigning liberates them.
The set, with a revolving stage and music hall-style border, is simple and unfussy and the performances are naturalistic and thoroughly believable. Beccy Owen’s musical interludes give the piece a similar charm to Whalley’s earlier musical theatre venture Big Society.
A seminal piece of agitprop that avoids cliches and propaganda in favour of the personal politics behind the ‘phony’ media headlines.
- The Civic, Barnsley
- September 18-20, PN September 18, then touring until February 21
- Author: Boff Whalley
- Director: Rod Dixon
- Design: Ali Allen set, Tim Skelly lighting
- Technical: Charlotte Stanley stage manager
- Cast: Victoria Brazier, Stacey Sampson, Claire-Marie Seddon
- Producer: Red Ladder Theatre Company
- Running time: 1hr 55mins